Cut the cost of doing laundry

The results of my 7-year-old’s science experiment proved something that I already knew—hot water cleans better than cold water. But what I did not know is that 90% of the energy used for washing clothes is for heating the water and that washing clothes in Warm/Cold verses Hot/Warm can cut the cost of doing laundry by more than half.

Following is a breakdown from a Web site run by Michael Bluejay (aka Mr. Electricity) showing the total cost per load of laundry.

Total cost per load (electricity + water + electric water heater) 

Hot / Warm 69¢
Hot / Cold 50¢
Warm / Warm 50¢
Warm / Cold 32¢
Cold / Cold 14¢

Because most people do way more laundry in the winter months than they do in the summer months (due to more and bigger clothing), I wanted to share some tips that can help you to reduce the cost and environmental impact of keeping your clothes clean.

-Lower the temperature. Wash your clothes in the coolest water setting possible and use cold water when appropriate.

-Fill ‘er up! If you are washing a small load, use the appropriate water-level setting. Or better yet, wait until you have a entire load (why wants to do that much laundry anyway?!)

-Don’t overdo it. Over washing clothes is unnecessary. Wash clothes that only need a light cleaning on the shortest time setting possible.

-Include some prep-time. To avoid the need to re-wash very dirty clothing, try pre-soaking and spot cleaning first.

For more laundry tips, visit the US Department of Energy’s Web site.

Kim McGrigg is the former Manager of Community and Media Relations for MMI.